Charese Fruge’ Talks To Freska

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on April 26, 2022 

She got her start in radio in San Francisco at the age of nineteen at what is now WILD 94.9. Freska’s path started in the research department where she eventually interned her way into the programming department. 18 months later her life changed. “I moved to Hawaii to be the programming assistant and one of the co-hosts on the night show,” she explains. “In three years, I had the #1-night show in Honolulu and mixed at clubs. I was also the mix show coordinator and Asst. MD.”

“I later moved back to San Francisco and worked weekends back at WILD. I then moved on to do mornings in Sacramento while doing television and eventually started commuting from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, getting into stunt work and looking for an agent. In short, in 2004 I took a break from radio and had two kids by 2006. I was hosting events and then got back into radio working at KMVQ (99.7 NOW). A few years later in 2014, I was doing middays at KRBQ then moved up to afternoons at KOIT in 2016, added KUFX in 2018 and now mornings at KBLX since the end of 2021,” explains Freska. “I co-host the Freska, Rudy, and Tony Sco Show on 102.9 KBLX in the morning and do middays on sister station 96.5 KOIT in San Francisco. I also do voiceover work as well as radio imaging.”

Freska is a “talker.” It’s one of the reasons she got into the business. “I always loved talking and I loved music. My teachers in grade school would separate my desk from everyone else because I would be constantly talking!” she says. “One day, when I was home sick with the chicken pox, my sister gifted me a little boombox of my own. I was about 8 years old. I recorded myself on it all the time. I did news reports, weather updates and even a fake interview with Joe Montana! I still have the cassette too! I was fascinated by all of it.”

“In 5th or 6th grade my father brought home the JVC K99 karaoke machine and it just elevated my production skills by a thousand percent!” says Freska. “I would create multi-track songs with my clarinet with multiple generation loss too ha-ha, but I didn’t care because to me I discovered a whole new world of production, my voice and RADIO. I listened to the radio ALL THE TIME and like many people, recorded songs and made tapes. Simultaneously, as I was discovering this new technological world, I was also heavily involved in playing music and making videos with my friends. I started playing piano at 4 and reading sheet music and played clarinet but eventually found a love for the trombone and baritone horn. I played first chair in all the bands I was in by senior year in high school (symphonic, jazz, and pit orchestra). I even toured Japan at 17 and played at the Monterey Jazz Festival and shared the stage with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Henderson, and Duke Ellington’s trumpet player Bill Berry (whom was our band director).”

“I was heavy in music!” Says Freska. “Out of high school I played professionally in a funk and reggae band. I seriously considered Berklee School of Music thinking I would be a music major but took recording engineering classes instead at a local junior college. I delved deeper into the production side and got my DJ equipment at 19 and built my recording studio at my parents’ house. I started working in radio at the same time and my co-worker Derrick invited me to be a member of Just 2 Hype, a DJ crew. I was living the life and finally married the two things that I LOVED MOST…TALKING AND MUSIC!!” She says. “My parents tried their best to steer me into any direction besides entertainment, but they failed with the help of my sister. THANKS GHIA!”

“Knowing my parents and sister were proud of me has been THE most exciting thing about my career so far. And then when my two daughters told me they were proud of me too, that took it to a whole new level. It took a very long time for me to get here,” she says. “My mom wanted me to be an accountant. And at one point, I was a week away from enlisting into the Air Force but instead took a job in radio. I had taken the tests and everything. My recruiter was PISSED!!!”

“Reaching number #1 in the San Francisco market when I was doing afternoons and middays at KOIT is an accomplishment I am also super proud of,” says Freska. “I had #1 afternoons on our classic rock station KUFX, as well and had some of the biggest numbers afternoons ever had on that station.”

Ironically, another career highlight for Freska happened after she discovered she had cancer and became very ill. “We were on food stamps 8 years ago, but a nonprofit called The Breast Cancer Emergency Fund gave me a $600 grant to help me and my kids with bills,” she says. “Years later I was able to give back and help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for their organization. I hold them deep in my heart and always will.”

Besides surviving cancer, Freska has faced a few other challenges in her life when it comes to her career path. The possibility of having to move from market to market to do what you love (radio) was always one of them. “I have only physically worked in San Francisco, Hawaii, and Sacramento,” she says. “When I became a single mom raising two kids, I got offers to work in other markets, but I couldn’t just uproot my daughters and keep them from their dad, so I decided to stay doing weekends until something opened up. I stuck it though for a VERY VERY LONG TIME but I’m glad I did. I am thankful for the timing.”

Another challenge for Freska in the business: “The technical side always intrigued me, and I guess women aren’t supposed to know how to hook up gear LOL. When guys found out I was a DJ with turn tables and had a little studio, they needed more proof and started asking me technical questions,” she explains. “Often times they were embarrassed because I knew my shit and had more knowledge than them. But I learned how to do it as a 19-year-old kid setting up my own recording studio in my bedroom. It started out with my DJ equipment and eventually I got a sequencer, sampler, drum machine, mixing board and multi-track recorder. I had to learn how to trouble shoot problems: like why I was getting a CB radio signal crashing my mixes when I would be recording!! So, I had to figure out how to ground my set up better and sometimes rewire everything better.”

There are a few things you’d be surprised to know about Freska. “Once, a young man by the name of Anthony Orozco called the station asking if we had extra turn tables. This was in the early 2000s,” she says. “I told him he could have two of my old belt drives that he would grow out of very quickly but those were his first pair. He was in middle school at the time. He became DJ VIP and when college rolled around, he interned at Power 106 in LA, and we kept in constant contact. We would talk periodically about the business, or I would give him advice as he continued his passion for DJ’ing and radio. He eventually went on to be the late Nipsey Hustle’s DJ. I am so proud of VIP and thankful for the opportunities that his passion and hard work were able to afford him working with such a great talent like Nipsey.”

Another thing you probably don’t know about Freska: “I started to get into stunt work and did a live stunt show for Sony Pictures back in the day,” she explains. “I love martial arts and am a Level One Coach in Olympic Training Methods in Taekwondo. I’m a 2nd degree under Master Herb Perez who won Olympic Gold in Barcelona at the 1992 Olympics. He was an intense boss and instructor.”

Freska has a lot going on not only with her job, but with two daughters and her outside activities. But when I asked, I found out that’s not what keeps her up at night. “This is a funny question,” she says. “Because these HOT FLASHES are no joke. THAT keeps me up at night! Perimenopause be keepin’ me sleepless in San Francisco!”

“Aside from trying to get sleep and a consistent workout schedule (I have a torn meniscus and MCL sprain as of this interview) I find balance with the comfort of my children and family and my sister and her family,” says Freska. “Knowing they are there for me through anything brings me peace beyond measure. I LOVE spending family time. That is my number one thing in the world to do. I love taking my dogs out on hikes and I also love riding my motorcycles. I have a Kawasaki Ninja and a Ducati Monster 696. I also train jiujitsu with my boyfriend,” she says. “Also, when I have time, I indulge in a few guilty pleasures. I just got into Bridgerton!! I want to interview the Duke of Hastings so bad hahaha!! My favorite show is THIS IS US!! My daughter and I are so sad that this season will be its last. And I need to catch up with Ozark.”

I have to admit, I had to sit back and wonder how Freska does it all. She’s got such a great story that needs to be told. She also has great advice for other women who want to get into the business. “Know your stuff! Stay consistent and believe in yourself. Surround yourself with those that want to see your growth and NETWORK like crazy,” she says. “Know your worth and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Always be on top of your game and be levelheaded in the process. Have thick skin and just DO WORK! Get it done. No excuses.”

As for what we have to look forward to from Freska, she’s got big plans. “I am the latest talent addition to the morning show on KBLX,” she says. “It was always a dream to do mornings in the market in which I grew up in. I want the Freska, Rudy and Tony show to be the #1 morning show in San Francisco. It’s a new show and we have lots of work to do but super excited about our potential together. Hopefully one day the show will be syndicated, or our podcast will have massive sponsorships.”

I also want to branch out and do more imaging and VO. At one point I was doing mornings on KBLX, middays on KOIT, afternoons on our classic rock station KUFX, a weekend shift for Mix 96 in Sacramento (3 different formats). I was also the imaging voice for KBLX, HOT 103.7 in Seattle, and KISS FM in Detroit. It was very busy. I scaled down a bit to concentrate on the morning show but will ramp up soon on imaging and voiceover again.”

“A big passion of mine is getting my chiweenie dog POTTY TRAINED too. OMG!! HA!” She says. “Also, just getting a real social media strategy going and getting even more disciplined with my time. I know if I work more efficiently, I can do even more and do it even better. I also hope to work with power houses Benztown, Atlas, and The Mix Group.”

Follow Freska on Instagram @Freskaontheair